This paper presents an optimization approach to design ax-isymmetric wave energy converters (WECs) based on a nonlinear hydrodynamic model. This paper shows optimal nonlinear shapes of buoy can be generated by combing basic shapes in an optimal sense. The time domain non-linear Froude-Krylov force can be computed for a complex buoy shape, by adopting analytical formulas of its basic shape components. The time domain Forude-Krylov force is decomposed into its dynamic and static components, and then contribute to the calculation of the excitation force and the hydrostatic force. A non-linear control is assumed in the form of the combination of linear and nonlinear damping terms. A variable size genetic algorithm (GA) optimization tool is developed to search for the optimal buoy shape along with the optimal control coefficients simultaneously. Chromosome of the GA tool is designed to improve computational efficiency and to leverage variable size genes to search for the optimal non-linear buoy shape. Different criteria of wave energy conversion can be implemented by the variable size GA tool. Simulation results presented in this paper show that it is possible to find non-linear buoy shapes and non-linear controllers that take advantage of non-linear hydrodynamics to improve energy harvesting efficiency with out adding reactive terms to the system.